While we are well into 2017, I recommend that all content marketers take a good look back, at 2016, before they move on. Good, bad, or indifferent, the past is the past. However, there are many lessons that can be learned by looking at SEO and content marketing in 2016. Here are just a few:
1. We’re Getting Better
Here’s some good news about SEO and content marketing. In 2016, content marketers were more effective than they were in 2015. 63 percent of B2C content marketers and 62 percent of B2B content marketers report they are “much more successful” or “somewhat more successful” than they were a year ago.
Most of the SEO and content marketers reported that they were more successful with their marketing efforts in 2016 than they were in prior years. This is great news.
This news means content marketers can canvas for bigger budgets. They also can find a better balance between testing out new marketing tactics and spending time on proven strategies.
The ability to get more funds and test new ideas will help content marketers become more effective in 2017.
How can you apply this? Just keep working. Keep testing and refining. Keep an eye on your analytics and tweak everything. ROI is out there.
2. Go Mobile or Stay Home
There are two forces that drive mobile’s dominance: Google and consumer habits. You can ignore these two forces at your own risk.
Today, there’s more traffic from mobile devices, than desktops. It’s been like that for a while. However, in 2016, there was a shift to a truly mobile-first search experience. Here are several major changes from Google, made during 2016.
- A mobile-friendly update in April 2016.
- A mobile first index update in October 2016.
- The advancement of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).
- An increase in mobile friendly “feature snippets”, which are appearing in more search results
I know some of you still think this doesn’t pertain to you. However, according to data, here’s how the desktop vs. mobile traffic broke out by the industry as of mid-2016. This is how much traffic comes from mobile devices to these sites, based on industry. Given these major developments, everybody should be caught up and getting mobile friendly sites, right? While most sites are mobile-friendly, according to the “Small Business Websites in 2016: A Survey,” by Cluch.co, 23 percent of all small business websites aren’t mobile friendly.
How can you apply this? Simple, get a mobile friendly site. If you’ve already done that, then start looking at nabbing traffic using featured snippets.
3. Email is the Best Distribution Channel for SEO and Content Marketing
Ironically, some small businesses still measure their content’s success by the number of social media shares it receives. However, if you want people to see your content, email is a killer. Don’t believe it? Remember, email is one of the most widely-used channels for B2B marketers who want to promote content. For B2C marketers, it’s tied with Facebook for the #1 spot.
A lot of the big marketers say their emails gets more views to their content than any other channel. This shows how effective email marketing can be. In fact, Buffer announces each new blog post to its 40,000-subscriber mailing list.
According to Buffer, out of the 40,000 subscribers, about 7,500 open the email and read the content. About 1,800 of those people will click through to read the article. By comparison, they say their Facebook posts are seen by about 1,800 people and only receives 51 clicks. Consider 51 clicks vs. 1,800 clicks, which would you prefer? You can get all the followers on Facebook you want. I’ll stick with the email list.
How to apply this? Just start by building your email list.
I’m happy to report that almost half of all small businesses surveyed are using email marketing. After a website, this is the most popular marketing tactics.
4. SEO and Content Marketing Relies on Trust
Publishing journalism and content marketing have a lot in common. They all depend on trust. That’s why so many people were fooled by those “fake ads” that looked like articles.
Content marketing must instill trust. Useful and entertaining content can be created and distributed to help build an audience. Over time, an audience will become familiar with the content. They will make a habit of reading the content, and this will lead to trust being established between you and your audience.
Content marketing is effective because the people who read your content will come to trust you and what you have to say. This not only helps in building your brand but also helps with reputation management. When it comes to finding a product, they’ll think of you and your company first. They’ll believe your marketing message. Content marketing buys you trust and familiarity.
There has been a rise in the popularity of content marketing because people no longer trust traditional advertising. Content marketers do not try to hard sell, or even soft sell because that’s the fastest way to destroy trust. Content marketing doesn’t always work fast, but over time it will work.
How to apply this? You should work on becoming a trustworthy publisher. Take the time to check your facts. Look for spelling errors. Don’t mislead or confuse your audience. Always remember, there are a thousand other places where your audience can get content. They just have to click away from your page. You should pay special attention to everything you publish.
5. User Generated Content May Be The New Content Marketing 2.0
What do people trust, if they no longer trust advertising or mass media? They trust recommendations from peers, according to research. These peers can have a great influence on what a person buys or the services they use. People trust recommendations from people who are like them. They trust these people more than they trust other types of messaging. This is true for every age group, in any location around the world.
User-generated content (UGC) comes in many forms. It could be:
- Customer advocacy, which is a form of influence marketing from people who don’t have a large audience
- Unboxing videos or amateur product demonstrations
- Influencer marketing
- Online reviews
- Shares about content or products with commentary
There are many other forms of UGC, but you get the idea. This content is hard to control. However, it is a great way to get engagements and even conversions, when it’s done right.
Make sure you have genuinely great products or services, or you may begin to see negative UGC.
How to apply this? Encourage your audience to share by leaving reviews or participating in contests. You might also consider offering some incentives. You can use an email request to get users to review a product they purchased. Just one review has the potential to increase sales by as much as 10 percent.
Technology may change, but the interactions and core connections between people remain the same. As a B2B marketer, it’s important to remember that “people do business with people. This was true in 2016, and it’s true for this year and beyond. These are tactics and strategies can be used in any year.
Content marketing has always been there in some form, and it will always be about the audience. In fact, it should really be called audience marketing. You can’t do one without the other.